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Nina Simone Biopic to Star Zoe Saldana; David Oyelowo Takes Co-Lead

Written by on August 16, 2012 

Following some long-held rumors for which a confirmation could never quite be snagged, THR has learned that Zoe Saldana will be headlining a Nina Simone biopic — briefly, appropriately titled Nina — which Cynthia Mort will direct from her own screenplay. “Sometimes the whispers speak loudly,” you could say, if only because that sounds like a lyric from one of her tunes.

Oh, but that’s not all: David Oyelowo (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Help) will co-star as Simone’s manager and assistant, Clifton Henderson, with whom the singer shared a relationship in her later days; this will serve as the crux of Nina. It’s only fair to expect that Mort‘s film will also include a bit of the classic tunes — “Sinner Man” and “Wild is the Wind” obviously come to mind — along with a few “live” performances. Now, will Saldana perform the songs herself? That’s the big question, when it comes to these sorts of films. (Perhaps that says something bad about them, though that’s a different discussion.)

Nevertheless, she and Oyelowo are a pretty solid way to kick-off Nina. Thanks to them, the thing’s already got two performance nearly guaranteed to be at its disposal — but the rest could go any way. Mort has only written one other feature — The Brave One, and that’s not good — with the rest of her writing credits being episodes of shows such as Will & Grace, while she has nothing in the way of directing contributions. For the time being, let’s give her the benefit of a little doubt and hope she’s got the passion to make Nina worthy of its legendary subject.

Shooting will start in October.

Is a Nina Simone biopic something we could use, particularly with this lineup?

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